Why Do Some Men Resist Yoga?

I was at dinner last night with some old friends and some newcomers at our vacation spot.  And the topic of what we do comes up.  There were software developers, hardware engineers, finance guys, lawyers and me.  As the introductions progressed, each occupation was met with a nod, a question or two to expand upon and then off to the next person.

noncompete

Then I throw in yoga.  It is one of the activities offered for the adults here at “camp.”  It is “vacation” yoga; nothing wrong with that, but it is generic as the teacher does not get to know the students well.  Along with questions I heard many excuses being thrown out for why someone felt they couldn’t take yoga.

 

All I said was I liked yoga and the classes here were a good introduction.  I didn’t demand to know why they hadn’t signed up.  I certainly don’t remember glaring at them for not being regular yogis.  So why the defensive responses?

 

I poked at the topic a little, for my own curiosity.  Someone eventually said he didn’t like the touchy feely “stuff” in yoga.  For others, I must speculate.

 

Having had these conversations before, I attempted to get to the root of the resistance.  To date (subject to new feedback/insight/opinions) this is what I have come up with:

 

  • Men, as a gender, don’t mind challenges if we can either succeed or fail gloriously.  However, to face a circumstance in which we can fail and not be commended for the attempt is just not appealing.
  • When men look at competitive situations (real or imagined) and we don’t think we stack up well, we put in caveats up front.  I think of it as handicapping.
  • Men are peacocks.  We want to look good for our mates and when put into a situation where we do not look good, we simply want to avoid it.
  • Men do not bond with other men by talking about our feelings.  We compare war stories of life, job and marriage; and sports teams.  We do not share our inner most hopes and dreams over dinner (yes, vast stereo typing here, I said that would happen).
  • Men do not like to be in situations where they feel uncomfortable emotionally.  Chop a leg off, no problem, but ask one how he feels and watch him run for the hills.

 

Is yoga a lost cause for men?  I believe the answer is no.  Men have a vast capacity to “suck it up.”  When motivated, there is almost nothing we can’t endure.  Unfortunately that trait has developed through pain, suffering and that sense of glorious cause (think Rambo charging an enemy position with tweezers and a pocket knife).  I propose we as a gender turn that around.

 

Take that steadfast endurance, and make ourselves the good cause we strive to protect.  Each of us is worth the effort to step out of our comfort zone.  To put our best, honest effort into something that will benefit us.  Stepping into a yoga studio is a difficult thing to do.  The women there can be suspicious (is this guy going to spend the whole class looking at my ass?) and there is a requirement that we set aside our egos to step up and not compete with everyone else in the room.

Yoga is seen as a woman’s domain.  It isn’t.  Yoga can benefit anyone.  But it takes courage to get out of our own way and take that first step.  I believe I am worth it; do you?

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2 thoughts on “Why Do Some Men Resist Yoga?

  1. My first few years of yoga were in a fitness center where I worked, and the classes were about 50/50 in gender, so I never thought about it at the time. A gym you already belong to is more approachable than a yoga studio for a first timer. Seeing men I knew from work, and from the gym, made yoga seem like a natural thing for me to do.

    Since then, I’ve explored different studios. I’ve never seen 50/50 again. I’m sometimes the only male, but often there might be another one or two. I don’t worry about why more men aren’t involved. (But studio and class names often seem to be marketing to women.) I talk up what I do, but don’t feel I need to push it. With men, I describe yoga as body-weight training with a big balance component, and a chance to breathe and clear your head.

    • I think that is an excellent approach. I think the benefits of yoga are fantastic and well known, but that there are reasons (as you mention, marketing as one example) that do not make a space for men. And I do like the point about the gym vs. a yoga studio. I have an upcoming post on a similar topic of vacation yoga.

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